Ruff patch: Exhibit highlights how dogs help mental health
HOME is where the dog lives and if spending months in isolation has taught us anything, it's that nothing heals a heart like our pet companions.
For Elliott Heads local Adrienne Williams, working as a full-time artist from her home-based studio brought conflicting emotions - she was working in a role she loved but the loneliness she felt began to consume her.
"My husband was actually working away a bit so I was in my studio alone which was intensely lonely and it was the first time in my life that I had ever really felt like that, so we decided to get our dog Sunday," Ms Williams said.
"Sunday had a tremendous impact on my mental health and it really made me start to think about the ways animals can affect your physical and mental health in such a positive way."
Ms Williams began working on a concept that would showcase the work of artists, promote local businesses and honour the beautiful relationship shared between pets and their owners.
The FOUND Studio Dog exhibition will showcase about 110 artworks, with submissions from 40 artists featured in the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery, as well as 45 artists on the art trail which can be viewed from the windows of 55 local businesses throughout Bundaberg and Bargara.
"There are a lot of amazing artists in the region but not many opportunities to show their work just because it's a small town and there's only a couple of private galleries and a small gallery run by the Bundaberg Arts Society too," Ms Williams said.
"I just thought wouldn't it be amazing to come up with a theme that everyone might find fun or relatable and then put those artist's works in places where everyone gets to see them so they don't have to go to the main art gallery to see all of them."
While the public may not be able to walk the entire trail in one go, they are encouraged to download the app on their smartphone, read about the artist and their pets and visit each business participating in the trail at their own leisure.
Featuring anything from studio dogs and cats to chickens and paddock sheep, the artists have created pieces that tell beautiful stories about their pets and how they have assisted during times of stress, isolation and with mental health.
But little did Ms Williams know at the time what lie ahead and suddenly the entire world was aware of the impact of isolation and the benefits that one's best friend can bring.
"When I started writing about it a couple of years ago, it was about the way artists work in isolation and I never imagined we would have a year where that became reality for everyone," she said.
"It's unimaginable the kind of loneliness that people may have felt, especially if they were unable to connect with their families during this time.
"It has been such a ghastly year for everyone and it has taught us a lot about community and keeping an eye out for others, but it has never been so important to have these conversations and I hope everyone at least gets a smile out of this."
After running her own business and working as a graphic designer for almost 40 years, Ms Williams said she understands the work that goes into running a business and also wanted to assist owners during what had been a challenging time.
It came from that place of looking at different ways to exhibit artist's work by placing them in shop windows and I actually saw businesses that I never knew existed but would have passed a hundred times wandering to the one I was headed to," she said.
"I have really enjoyed talking to the business owners and the trail is a positive way to start community interaction again especially after this period of shutdown."
The artist is also working with Headspace offering linocut workshops for kids and Whiskey's Wish, an organisation which assists with training support dogs for first-line emergency responders and war veterans who experience PTSD.
In conjunction with this project, there are eight additional exhibitions that other art groups will be hosting, including Bargara's Earth Circle Gallery, Bundaberg's Hazard Gallery and Pottery Club and The Creation Station in Apple Tree Creek.
The exhibition and art trail will be open from August 28 to October 18.
While artworks can be viewed in shop windows on all hours of the day, the public are encouraged to show their support by walking their dogs on the trail, particularly on Sunday August 30, September 13 and September 27.